In a continuing series of interviews with leaders and operatives across Pennsylvania, PoliticsPA has sent contributors across the state to interview and profile some of the most interesting people around.
Representing Pennsylvania’s 84th district is the simple, yet seemingly complete gentleman Brett Feese, who has served his constituents for four consecutive terms. The story of this man begins as a child in Montoursville where he enjoyed athletics, predominately football and basketball during high school. However, even as a young man, this athlete began to have aspirations of pursing law. As a child, Brett accompanied his father, a court stenographer, to many local cases where he became inspired by the courtroom drama.
After high school, Brett Feese attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania to receive his Bachelors degree in political science, and later attended Dickinson Law School for a degree in law. During his time at IUP, this Theta Xi brother engaged in activities such as the Student Senate and intramural sports, yet as Brett put it best, “mostly, I studied.” At Dickinson, Brett pursued his law degree while working with the Senate Legal Staff and serving as a clerk for two law firms, one in Harrisburg and one in Williamsport. This avid student graduated with high honors from both IUP and Dickinson.
Before entering the public light, Brett Feese practiced law as a partner in the law firm of McNerney, Page, Vanderlin & Hall. In 1984, at the age of 29, Brett ran for the position of District Attorney of Lycoming County and won. Serving as DA for two terms, Brett felt that it was time to move away from politics… a feeling that did not last for long. In 1994, after numerous requests from the Republican leadership, Feese successfully ran for Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives.
Brett Feese enjoys the ability to affect change for his constituents in both small victories and large ones. In fact, a point of frustration in his job comes with the knowledge of the inevitability that not all goals can be accomplished. Countering those occasional frustrations is his love for winning and the accompanying “self-satisfaction of accomplishing your goal.” A point of wisdom that Brett embraces, that allows him to maintain perspective during any victory or defeat, came when he was asked what he would change about the system if given the opportunity:
“[I wouldn’t change] anything, because you can’t enjoy the mountain tops unless you’ve been in the valleys. You have to have a failure in order to know how good it is to succeed.”
As a legislator and practicing attorney, Brett holds criminal justice issues and crime victim legislation close to heart. Amongst the many other points he champions are economic development, legislation against minors purchasing tobacco and health issues like colon and rectal cancer screenings. Of great concern to Brett in his own district is building economic viability and infrastructures that will support growth. Having participated in the General Assembly’s Joint Select Committee to Examine Election Issues and the Rules Committee, Brett now holds the position of House Republican Caucus Chairman. It was Brett’s intent only to serve for two terms until he began working with a man whom he greatly admires, House Majority Leader John Perzel. Brett admires John Perzel for his ability to accomplish goals and get things done, providing much of the inspiration Brett drew upon to continue his service in the House of Representatives for a third and forth term.
As an avid hiker and camper, Brett finds himself most at peace in the woods and “being as far back in off roads and from phones as you can be.” To Brett, being disconnected from the world gives him a sense of privacy. Brett enjoys watching grizzly bears, recounting tales of past trips and showing his rugged side to all who can relate.
This legislator and outdoorsman enjoys a successful career, and more importantly, a wonderful life with his wife Gwen and his two daughters.
John Rose is a junior at Bloomsburg University, with a major in Marketing and Management. Rose lives in Cumberland County, PA.